From oldies to “New,” Saturday's McCartney show is a hit parade spanning a half-century.
The dude has songs. In fact, if Paul McCartney were to play every hit in his 51-year discography — never mind the many uncharted nuggets — Saturday’s landmark concert at Target Field would not wrap until after the sun comes up Sunday.
He won’t go that far, but he will go the distance. Other stops on Macca’s current Out There! Tour have neared the three-hour, 40-song mark. That includes the handful of gigs the 72-year-old icon has played since postponing Asian concerts in May on doctors’ orders due to a virus.
After studying his recent set lists, we picked out some of the most-played tunes to spotlight in detail, leaving out the most oft-told back stories (i.e., “Hey Jude” was written for Julian Lennon). More than anything else, the songs are what matter most in a McCartney concert.
“All My Loving” (1963): It’s the song that introduced Americans to his old band. The first tune the Beatles played on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” it was never released as a single, but charted anyway. Album: “With the Beatles” (U.K.) and “Meet the Beatles” (U.S.)
“Yesterday” (1965): Based on a melody that allegedly came to him in a dream, this tender favorite kicked around for months with the joking title “Scrambled Eggs.” (Opening line: “Scrambled eggs / Oh my baby how I love your legs.” ) It’s the most-covered song in recording history, with more than 2,200 remakes. Album: “Help!”
“Eleanor Rigby” (1966): Near the end of writing one of the Beatles’ most groundbreaking tracks, Paul inserted the name of its lonely subject, thinking he made it up. However, an Eleanor Rigby tombstone was later spotted in a Liverpool cemetery where he and John Lennon would go smoke as kids. “I suppose it was in my subconscious, because I would have been amongst those graves knocking around with John,” McCartney is quoted in “The Beatles Anthology.” Album: “Revolver”
“All Together Now” (1967): Performed live for the first time on the Out There! Tour, he wrote it for the international TV special “Our World” but the Beatles ended up performing Lennon’s “All You Need Is Love” instead. Album: “Yellow Submarine”
“Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” (1967): Another one never played live before, it’s one of the tour’s two Lennon-McCartney tunes more closely associated with Lennon (also: “Day Tripper”). The lyrics were taken off an antique circus poster. “I wasn’t very proud of that,” Lennon said later. “There was no real work. I was just going through the motions because we needed a new song at that moment.” Album: “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
“Back in the U.S.S.R.” (1968): This rowdy, wry spinoff of a Beach Boys song was written decades before Paul ever actually made it to Russia. It may jump out of (or fall off) the set list given the fact that Ukraine girls are now face-to-face with war. The Beatles themselves were fighting when they recorded it — Paul played drums on the track after Ringo briefly quit the band. Album: “The Beatles” (aka “The White Album”)
“Blackbird” (1968): This beloved acoustic ballad was inspired by the then-raging civil rights movement, which McCartney imagined from the perspective of a young black girl. “It’s so great so many civil rights issues have been overcome,” he said in 2009 before playing at the Coachella festival. Album: “The Beatles”
“Maybe I’m Amazed” (1970): Written as a tribute to his new wife Linda for helping him weather the breakup of the Beatles, it appeared on his first solo LP but was never released as a single until 1976’s live double-LP “Wings Over America.” Second wife Heather Mills reportedly tried to forbid him from playing it. Album: “McCartney”
“Live and Let Die” (1973): The theme song from the James Bond movie of the same name was ousted by Duran Duran’s “A View to a Kill” in 1985 as the highest-charting Bond theme. So that tells you something about record charts. It charted again in 1991 when Guns N’ Roses covered it. But Paul is stealing it back. Album: “Live and Let Die” soundtrack
“Band on the Run” (1974): The subject of the three-part title track to Wings’ most successful record is variously cited as escaping the Beatles; drug charges, and the general confinement of a band on tour. The line “If we ever get out of here” has been traced to George Harrison, who said it during a lengthy Apple Records business meeting. Album: “Band on the Run”
“Here Today” (1982): Written in the aftermath of Lennon’s murder, it’s based on an imaginary conversation with his former bandmate. “A conversation we never had,” Paul said before playing it on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” last year at Fallon’s request. “I always tell people: If you want to say to someone you love them, tell them now.” Album: “Tug of War”
“New” (2013): Much like the songs he wrote early in his marriage to Linda, the title track of his latest album is rather obviously about his new wife, Nancy Shevell. “It’s a love song, but it’s saying: Don’t look at me, I haven’t got any answers,” he told the BBC. “I don’t know how it’s all happening, but it’s good and I love you.” Album: “New”
Other songs Sir Paul has played most often on the Out There Tour:
1964: “And I Love Her,” “Eight Days a Week”